: The Festival of Indigenous Rugby League, Sydney, Tuesday 28th January 2014. Photo: Renee McKay

The 2014 Festival of Indigenous Rugby League kicks off next week in Newcastle, featuring community activities, men’s and women’s friendly matches, and an official trial game between a non-elite Indigenous team and Wayne Bennett’s Newcastle Knights.

The Festival is being run in place of the traditional Rugby League All Stars which is being rested following the World Cup.

Like All Stars, the event is an opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through sport and the arts, and recognises the talent involved in the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout and the Qld Murri Carnival.

 

The trial match on February 8th provides a great opportunity for 16 young Indigenous players to show their skills against an NRL squad and hopefully open the door to a start in the NRL in the near future.

 

Each NRL club will this week play host to several players from interstate, and at Panthers we have Javarn White and Joshua Benjamin joining us.

 

Javarn (right in photo) is 25 years old, and currently plays at fullback for the Ipswich Jets, while Joshua (left) is 26 years old, and is one of Mackay Cutters’ towering centres.

 

Both of these players will spend the week at Sportingbet Stadium, training with some of the players and getting a firsthand look at what being an NRL player is like.

 

We hope the boys enjoy their stay, and we look forward to seeing them line up against the Knights!